Childhood in the digital age
Childhood in the digital age

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Childhood in the digital age

4.3.2 What does the research evidence say?

Described image
Figure 7 How successful are tablets in the classroom?

The evidence appears promising. Imagine the context in which young children can create their own digital stories using a combination of texts, images, videos and even sounds.

The Open University research team has found strong indications that e-books and digital apps, such as Our Story, can lead to improvements in early literacy skills among both pre-school children (Kucirkova et al., 2013) and primary-age children (Flewitt et al., 2014).

For example, one of the main conclusions was:

with just a little support from our team and a lot of teacher dedicated time – spurred on by the children’s enthusiasm – the practitioners discovered creative uses for the iPads in their classrooms, and recognised benefits for children’s self-esteem and enthusiastic engagement with a range of reading and writing activities.

(Flewitt et al., 2014, p. 16)

The point must be emphasised that it is not the technology alone that supports learning; careful planning and sensitive support by confident teachers is needed to ensure the technology meets its intended goals.

However, given this engagement on the part of teachers as much as of pupils, it does seem that digital applications on tablet devices can be successful in fostering literacy development. The question now is might these positive findings extend to other curriculum areas, such as maths? This is what we look at next.

If you would like to, read the article New directions for early literacy in a digital age: The iPad, by Rosie Flewitt et al. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus